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'Internet freedom' bill targeting China cooperation faces rough road
Written by Daniel   
Wednesday, 28 May 2008 09:43

 Editor's note: Updated at 5:50 a.m. PDT with comment from Yahoo.

 May 28, 2008 4:00 AM PDT
Posted by Declan McCullagh,

 A proposed federal law that would slap extensive regulations on technology companies doing business in China and other nations deemed to be unreasonably "Internet-restricting" is facing an uncertain future due to opposition from the Bush administration and telecommunications providers.

The House of Representatives bill says that search engines, Web e-mail services, and other Internet businesses may not place servers with user account information in those nations. Any "aggrieved" person anywhere in the world would have the right to sue U.S. companies in federal court.

It's no surprise that technology companies have not exactly applauded the Global Online Freedom Act, which also would require them to disclose censorship pressure from allegedly repressive regimes. Microsoft, for instance, has said that no new laws are necessary.

With public concern about human rights in China growing in advance of the summer Olympics, spurred along by trade and currency concerns, the uprising in Tibet in March, and a Senate hearing last week with executives from Yahoo, Google, and Cisco Systems, it seemed possible that Republican Rep. Chris Smith's proposal could become law this year. It already has cleared the hurdles of three House committees, thanks in part to enthusiastic support from the late Democratic Rep. Tom Lantos, and is awaiting a floor vote.   [C/Net news...]    [Comments...]

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